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How to win with video: Content matters

By Philippe Guay


New York, United States


Publishers today recognise video is a key element to succeeding online. Video engages audiences, grows revenue, and enhances storytelling. However, it still isn’t being used to its full capacity by a majority of digital publishers because creating video can be costly and time-consuming if it isn’t done right.

In addition to finding or creating videos, hosting and monetising videos as well as maintaining video player technology add additional strains on publishing teams as they try to rapidly evolve to meet audience demands. If you’ve been interested in developing a video strategy or improving your existing one, I’m going to give you everything you need to succeed with video online.

All statistics point to an explosive growth in digital video content in the coming months.
All statistics point to an explosive growth in digital video content in the coming months.

When it comes to creating a successful video strategy, there are three critical pieces to consider: video content, video player technology, and advertising capabilities. Over my next several posts, I plan to cover each element in detail and review the best practices you can apply to any video strategy.

Today we start with arguably the most important aspect of your video strategy: the content.

Why you need a video strategy

Digital video is the perfect complement for any digital publisher as it engages your audience while simultaneously increasing revenue. There are very few ways you can add new revenue channels in a way that your readers actually enjoy. Video provides the best way to connect with your audience and increases your advertising inventory to take advantage of the growing video advertising market.

People spend 2.6x more time on pages with video and videos generate 1200% more shares than text and images alone. By 2022, more than 80% of all consumer Internet traffic will be video traffic as more digital publishers embrace video.

Digital publishers are also branching out beyond their existing properties to find new ways to harness the power of video to connect to their readers. The New York Times, for example, just announced its expansion into television with its new series “The Weekly,” which will premiere on FX and Hulu.

Building on its success with podcasting, the Times is a great example of the changing face of digital publishing. The growing demand for digital video provides an amazing opportunity for publishers to thrive as long as they focus on delivering the best experience for their audiences, which all starts with video quality.

Quality matters

Your audience doesn’t want to watch bad videos. It can be very tempting to use videos that aren’t technically bad (but aren’t great either) because they are inexpensive. The quality of your videos can impact their effectiveness, and even the smallest improvements can result in massive gains.

We often see examples where publishers are making “videos” in-house to use with their sports articles. They don’t have access to official videos and game highlights from leagues so they are limited in what they can create. Additionally, because creating video is costly and time-consuming, one video may have to serve as the media content for multiple articles, which can lead to a lack of contextual relevance.

When engagement levels are tested against league official content from SendtoNews (our sports video distribution platform that works directly with more than 75 leagues to provide exclusive sports video to digital publishers) the numbers are striking. Official sports video content from SendtoNews sees more than 300% more impressions/views, nearly 400% longer time on page, and 35% more social shares than other digital sports video content.

Another reason for the lift in engagement? Publishers have access to more videos than they are able to create themselves, meaning they are able to use more tailored, specific videos in each article rather than using the same video across multiple articles. By increasing the relevance of the video, audiences are much more engaged.

Context is everything

The saying quality over quantity is true in many situations, but not necessarily when it comes to your video strategy. You need both quality and quantity to truly see the benefits of a video strategy. For example, if you have a very well produced video about the New York Yankees, it won’t really have the same value if that video is used on an article about the Toronto Raptors. Contextual relevance is critical to building engagement with your audience, meaning the video content is relevant to the article’s content.

Context expands beyond the content within the article and video; it’s also important to understand when and how visitors use your digital properties.

The video team at The Washington Post is striving to become a destination for video, and part of that strategy is knowing what types of videos to serve to the audience and when. The team realises people visiting the site in the morning want to watch shorter videos while those visiting the YouTube channel come with a “video-watching mindset” and are more open to longer-form videos. Inherently knowing your audience is key to succeeding with any storytelling medium, and video is no different.

A recent study compared user engagement on pages with and without contextually relevant videos. Contextual video content was shown to increase the dwell time by 33% and boosted the perception of the publisher’s site by 9%, both of which naturally increase revenue as well.

To have contextually relevant videos in all of your articles, you need to either create a lot of videos or partner with a video distribution platform that has a robust library with quality videos for you to use. There have also been advancements in technology to allow Artificial Intelligence to lend a hand to help match articles with the perfect videos, which is why it’s important to know what to look for when you are researching video players.

Once you have finalised your video content strategy, you need to determine exactly how you will embed video into your articles for the best user experience. In our next post in the series, we will take a closer look at video player technology and the critical elements you need to consider to ensure you’re set up for success.

About Philippe Guay

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